CSE Ambassadors, Computing for All co-host Girl Scout computing camp
Apr 13, 2017 By Victoria Grdina
Last month two CSE student groups came together to show young women that computing can be for everyone — including Girl Scouts.
The CSE Ambassadors and Computing for All invited local Girl Scouts to attend an all-day computing camp where they engaged in unplugged activities, coded in Minecraft, and programmed LEGO robots.
The CSE Ambassadors are dedicated to giving back to the community through computing, and Computing for All is focused on promoting diversity in tech and on campus. The Girl Scout camp was an event that fit the missions of both groups.
“We have some similar goals with outreach, and we both were really interested in working together and figuring out what we can both do as a combined force to bring about good in computer science,” said Computing for All member Allison Buckley.
Ann Koopmann, adviser to both student groups, said this was a great opportunity for the groups to come together over a common good cause.
“I think they discovered the power in collaboration,” Koopmann said. “They combined their powers to show that computing can be for everyone, and that doing good in the community goes hand in hand with that.”
Bringing computing to more students in the community is an important part of both groups’ initiatives. They hope encouraging more girls to pursue STEM activities at an early age will also encourage them to consider pursuing it as a career.
“It’s hard to find female role models in STEM. There aren’t a lot of us,” Buckley said. “It’s important to show younger girls that we do exist and that women can do it, and they’re capable of doing it.”
While a few girls had coding knowledge prior to the camp, most of them were fairly new to the concept. Over the course of the day, the mentors saw significant progress with even the most inexperienced beginners.
“One of the girls I was helping with Hour of Code at the beginning, you could just tell she was a little frustrated and it wasn’t making much sense to her, but then you could see the wheels start turning in her head and she got really excited about it. By the end she was breezing through the activity,” Buckley said. “It was awesome to see her go from not really liking it and within an hour loving it and having fun.”
Buckley also said one of the main goals of the camp was not only to help the Girl Scouts learn computing, but also help them see that it can be fun.
“We had a few ask after, ‘When can we do this again?’” said Buckley. “That was exciting to see them wanting to just keep doing it. We’re hoping to make this a once-a-semester type of event.”